Donald Trump has been called a lot of things: real estate developer, short-fingered vulgarian, bigot, demagogue.
To that list, I’d like to add one more well-earned moniker: terrorist tool.
Because after the Brussels bombing, short of wrapping himself in explosives and detonating himself in some crowded public place, nobody could do the terrorists’ bidding with such alacrity as Donald Trump, eagerly spreading the ISIS gospel.
“Frankly, we’re having problems with the Muslims,” he told Fox News. “These attacks are not done by Swedish people. That I can tell you. We have to be smart. We have to look at the mosques and study what’s going on. There is a sick problem going on.”
In other words, “Muslim = Terrorist.”
Which is exactly the reaction terrorists are looking for when they commit these atrocities. Like Donald Trump, they are uncomfortable with the idea of a tolerant Western society that welcomes all faiths. Like Donald Trump, they don’t think it’s wise for the West to include Muslims either. Like Donald Trump, they’d prefer the cultures remain separate and apart.
“I would be extremely careful about people from the Middle East coming into our country,” he told CBS.
Trump/terrorists share a commonality: the impulse to hurt people they consider fair game.
In his defense, Trump is not alone. Ted Cruz, the other scary Republican presidential hopeful, did not wait for the smoke to clear to again castigate President Barack Obama for not emphasizing the Islamic nature of terror to the degree he feels necessary.
“For over seven years we have had a president who refuses to acknowledge this reality,” Cruz said. “And the truth is, we can never hope to defeat this evil so long as we refuse to even name it. That ends on January 20, 2017, when I am sworn in as president. We will name our enemy: radical Islamic terrorism. And we will defeat it.”
Like Trump, he stops at that point, just when it’s getting interesting: “We will defeat it…” how? By victimizing whatever stray Muslims come our way, I suppose.
Trump’s mention of Swedes made me think of Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik, who was so worked up about the threat of Muslims that he murdered 77 Norwegians, mostly young people, in 2011. Terrorists are often Muslims unless they’re not, though in the second case, we tend to shrug and avoid conclusions.
But Muslim terrorists are dots we can leap to connect. A call to action, however ill-advised. Donald Trump wants to see Muslims barred from the country. That’s his solution.
Only it’s not a solution. Like so much Trump has to say, it’s an impossible idea that couldn’t be implemented and wouldn’t do any good if it were. Ditto for Cruz’s insane notion aired Tuesday “to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.” Both candidates are like those who stockpile guns under the illusion that it makes them more secure, when what they are actually doing, statistically, unarguably, is undermining the safety of themselves and those they love. The GOP’s bigoted excesses would encourage terrorism and make our country more threatened, not less.
There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. If some significant minority were prone to terror, we’d be having these attacks every day. There are 3.3 million Muslims living in the United States; about 1 percent of the population. To suggest that the Belgian attacks somehow implicate them, or require that no more Muslims be admitted, is the same guilt-by-proxy that strikes bigots as reasoning. It’s the same cowardice-masquerading-as-courage that inspires ISIS to blow themselves up in airports.
You can sense the impatience of the haters. Now can we start ridding our society of all the elements that make us uncomfortable? And the answer from patriotic Americans who refuse to be terrorized is also the same: No. No, now is not the time to abandon our principles but to cling to them all the more tightly.